Interview: Kojin Ono,
Dai Ono & Hideki Shimanuki
Translated & Interpreted by Jeremy Barlow © Soundwave's Oblivion
Interview from Figure King 285 (October 2021)
Masterpiece G MPG-01
Scheduled Release Late June 2022 / 19,800 Yen
The Transformers top brand, Masterpiece, now includes a new sub-line “MPG”,
otherwise known as “Masterpiece G”. The added “G” stands for “Gattai”,
“Giant” and “Great!”. The first release is the Trainbot Leader, Light Speed
Commander Shouki, whose origins lie in Diaclone and was also included in the
1987 Japanese exclusive series Transformers: The Headmasters.
The vehicle mode is based on the Super Express 0 Series Shinkansen (Bullet
Train). With the permission of the JR Group and the help of Tomytec who
manage the TOMIX brand within the Takara Tomy Group, the train mode has been
scaled to fit with the international model railway HO gauge size. The fully
articulated robot is a gem of a masterpiece designed with the latest toy
All 6 Trainbots will be released under the fitting MPG name as they will
combine into the Heavy Union Warrior Raiden. We hope you will assemble the
first Masterpiece combiner!!
Takara Tomy x Tomytec Shouki Developer
Kojin Ono ● Takara Tomy / Transformers Team
Dai Ono ● Tomytec / Development
Hideki Shimanuki ● Tomytec / Marketing
Ono ● It was at our meeting when a young
staffer name dropped “Raiden”. This idea was put on hiatus due to a
multitude of issues, above all we had to be able to combine 6 robots.
However if this could be realised we would have our first train Transformers
after a long time as well as our first Masterpiece combiner. Additionally if
we were able to attract model railway enthusiasts we would be able to tap
into a new fanbase….and after a lot of deliberation we all thought “Let’s do
it!”. The licensing team and myself got a hold of the old G1 toys and
approached Japan Railways to see how we could do this and that’s how we got
-How did the collaboration with TOMIX come about?
Ono ● As we are part of the same
organisation we initially began consulting with each other, but if we worked
together to include supervision and marketing, we thought, wouldn’t we both
benefit? When I spoke with the team again I was told there was a guy in the
TOMIX team who used to play with Transformers when they were younger. That
was very promising (laughs).
Dai Ono ● Back then, Raiden was bought
for my younger brother and since I was a train fan we were always playing
with them (laughs).
-What were your initial thoughts about a train
turning into a robot?
Shimanuki ● This year TOMIX is currently
celebrating it’s 45th anniversary so we are very close with vehicles such as
the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) and Blue Trains (Long Distance Trains). When I
heard that they could transform as well, I was excited about what this could
bring to our company.
-It appears it is being produced to the HO gauge
Dai Ono ● This is the scale used for
model railways overseas, and as the Shinkansen trains use a standard track
gauge we chose to use the HO gauge size.
Ono ● When I originally designed the
Diaclone Train Robos, I aimed at a size close to the N gauge. As this is an
MPG product we are aiming as much as we can at a realistic train which was
not possible to do back then. I’m sure railroad fans will approve of the HO
gauge size. This is why I was very particular about the scale from the
beginning. It was only later I had to alter the robot's height to scale with
the other Masterpiece’s (laughs).
Shimanuki ● Even TOMIX haven't released
a 0 Series at the HO gauge scale yet (laughs).
-What was the point of TOMIX’s supervision?
Shimanuki ● We were there to ensure the
end product fit the look of a model railroad. As we are a model railroad
company and this is a model railroad, we wanted to make sure this matched
the real thing.
Dai Ono ● We have a say on the overall
shape of the train but that's about it. I’m often amazed that a robot fits
Shimanuki ● We talked amongst ourselves
that it would be great for TOMIX fans to see another product and say “that’s
something that TOMIX supervised”.
-How did this partnership actually work in
Ono ● TOMIX stores a lot of product
development materials, particularly photographs which have never been seen
outside of the company. When I was supervising I was able to make use of
these materials to check for errors with our designs.
Shimanuki ● When asked, we would
thoroughly examine the colour chips and faithfully match them to the real
colours. The colours of the train's body have been reproduced in a way that
they are comparable with TOMIX products.
-Did you have to make any corrections?
Ono ● It was really only the sizes of
the windows and the number of rivets in the paneling.
Dai Ono ● I had to think about how we
should approach the windows (laughs). The sizes of the windows for the
original trains built in 1964 were different from those manufactured in
1975. For this project I chose to use the larger windows (from when the
train was first manufactured).
Ono ● Ono-san also pointed out the
differences between the Shinkansen couplers and those of the conventional
trains. However as we have 6 trains to link, all the couplers are going to
be the same for the 6 Transformers (laughs).
-From your perspective, what is the appeal of this
Ono ● For me it’s the HO gauge size
recreating a realistic 0 Series Shinkansen and the fact that even in robot
mode you can tell it’s a 0 Series. I was very particular that he looked
cool, after all Shouki is good looking. I also wanted him to have great
articulation, I hope you enjoy it. I also thought that it was a must have to
come packaged with a rail section.
Dai Ono ● The fact you can display this
on a rail track is simply amazing. It's actually really hard to make a model
train in this scale. We are very particular over the wheel arrangements and
train antennae when we make model railroads. We hope this is something you
can appreciate with this product.
Shimanuki ● The sculpt of the coupler is
very well done. Usually with TOMIX the couplers are not sculpted as we
recreate them to be covered.
Ono ● It has only been possible to make
such a product with TOMIX as we are both part of the Takara Tomy Group.